July 17, 2024

Human Caution in Scientific and Technological Advancements

In the science fiction novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly, Dr. Victor Frankenstein created a new life made out of human corpses in an attempt to advance the scientific field of the time. In the novel, Dr. Frankenstein does not take the proper precautions in his experiments, and as a result, created a hideous creature that prompted Dr. Frankenstein to run away from his creation. As the creature began to develop, it finally set out to seek revenge on Victor and killed many of his loved ones. Victor chased the creature all the way to the North Pole, where he met Robert Walton, a polar explorer who tells the story of Frankenstein. 

This story has a lot of different messages and themes, however I think the theme that is most relevant today is the need for proper precautions when conducting scientific and technological experiments. Because Dr. Frankenstein did not take many precautions in his experiment, he lost control of the life that he created and as a result, many people died. I think this is a great connection to what we are currently seeing in our world today with the acceleration of technologies such as artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is a world-changing technology as it allows computers to complete tasks that typically require the intelligence of a human. Artificial intelligence is an amazing technology that disrupts many traditional technologies and processes, however without proper precaution, the rapid development of artificial intelligence could potentially have harmful effects on our world, similarly to what happened in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein.

Many artificial intelligence scientists at some of the most highly regarded institutions understand that if humans are not careful in their development of artificial intelligence, it could become a threat to humanity. As artificial intelligence continues to become smarter, it will eventually be much smarter and more capable than human beings if we do not set a limit on how far the technology can go. Elon Musk argues that artificial intelligence is humanity’s greatest existential threat. If computers become far more intelligent than their human creators, there is the possibility that these super computers can have many negative impacts on the world, the most extreme being the destruction of the human race. While I personally am unsure how likely that case may be, I think the argument really makes us understand that if we are not careful enough with our experiments, these experiments may come back to haunt us. This is true in the scientific world as well. With the development of CRISPR technology, scientists can remove and replace human genes. If these scientists are not careful and ethical enough in their experimentation, CRISPR could have many harmful effects on human beings.

Although a fictional story, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein sheds light on the idea that we must take caution in our scientific and technological experiments or else there could be harmful results that affect our world. This precaution is needed now more than ever with the rise of extremely powerful and capable technologies such as artificial intelligence. If we do not take enough precaution, we risk losing control of our technology, just like Victor lost control of the creature that he created who killed many people that Victor loved. If we lose control of the technology that we develop, there is the real risk that the technology will then be able to take control of us humans.

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